LadyOfConquest:SaxonBride

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Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Tamara Leigh Novels

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Epilogue

Excerpt

Tamara Leigh Novels

About The Author

LADY OF CONQUEST

A “clean read” rewrite of
Saxon Bride
, published by Bantam Books, 1996

TAMARA LEIGH, USA Today Best-Selling Author

CURSED

England of The Norman Conquest, 1068:
 
Two years have passed since the Battle of Hastings changed the course of a nation. As the defeated Saxons continue to chafe against the yoke of Norman rule, Rhiannyn of Etcheverry finds herself at the center of a rebellion when the conqueror she refuses to wed dies in her arms—cursing her to never know the love of a man or the blessing of children. Certain only her silence can save her people from retaliation, she holds close the dark truth about his death. But when his avenging brother saves her life, she discovers another side to the celebrated warrior of Hastings—one that will test her loyalties and beliefs. And expose the innocent heart beneath her Saxon pride.

UNFORGIVEN

Renouncing his holy vows, Maxen Pendery pledges to discover who murdered his brother—even at the cost of the soul he has wrestled to save since thrusting his sword in the blood-soaked soil of Hastings and walking away. But when Rhiannyn of Etcheverry is at his mercy, she continues to protect the rebel leader to whom she was once betrothed. Though breathtakingly lovely, she refuses to use her wiles against Maxen, instead disarming him with her sharp tongue, strong will, and a selflessness that unexpectedly stirs his ignoble heart. Might the cursed beauty be the death of him? Or could she prove his redemption?

LADY OF CONQUEST
 
(a “clean read” rewrite of the 1996 Bantam Books bestseller
Saxon Bride
) Copyright © 2015 by Tammy Schmanski, P.O. Box 1298, Goodlettsville, TN 37070,
[email protected]

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, incidents, and dialogues are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.

ISBN-10: 942326-00-7

ISBN-13: 978-1-942326-00-7

All rights reserved. This book is a copyrighted work and no part of it may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photographic, audio recording, or any information storage and retrieval system) without permission in writing from the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the author’s permission is illegal and punishable by law. Thank you for supporting authors’ rights by purchasing only authorized editions.

Cover Design: Ravven

TAMARA LEIGH NOVELS

CLEAN READ HISTORICAL ROMANCE

The Feud: A Medieval Romance Series

Baron Of Godsmere
:
Book One, 02/15

Baron Of Emberly
: Book Two, Winter 2015

Medieval Romance Series

Lady At Arms
:
Book One, 01/14 (1994 Bantam Books bestseller
Warrior Bride
clean read rewrite)

Lady Of Eve
:
Book Two, 06/14 (1994 Bantam Books bestseller
Virgin Bride
clean read rewrite)

Stand-Alone Medieval Romance Novels

Lady Of Fire
:
11/14 (1995 Bantam Books bestseller
Pagan Bride
clean read rewrite)

Lady Of Conquest
:
06/15 (1996 Bantam Books bestseller
Saxon Bride
clean read rewrite)

Dreamspell
:
A Medieval Time Travel Romance
,
03/12

INSPIRATIONAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Age of Faith: A Medieval Romance Series

The Unveiling
:
Book One, 08/12

The Yielding
:
Book Two, 12/12

The Redeeming
:
Book Three, 05/13

The Kindling
:
Book Four, 11/13

The Longing
: Book Five, 05/14:
 

INSPIRATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Head Over Heels: Stand-Alone Romance Novels

Stealing Adda
,
05/12 (ebook edition)

Stealing Adda
,
2006 (print edition): NavPress

Perfecting Kate
,
03/15 (ebook edition):

Perfecting Kate
,
2007 (print edition): Multnomah

Splitting Harriet
,
2007 (print edition): RandomHouse/Multnomah

Faking Grace
,
2008 (print edition): RandomHouse/Multnomah

Southern Discomfort: A Contemporary Romance Series

Leaving Carolina
,
2009 (print edition): RandomHouse/Multnomah

Nowhere, Carolina
,
2010 (print edition): RandomHouse/Multnomah

Restless in Carolina
,
2011 (print edition): RandomHouse/Multnomah

OUT-OF-PRINT GENERAL MARKET TITLES

Warrior Bride
,
1994: Bantam Books

*Virgin Bride
,
1994: Bantam Books

Pagan Bride
,
1995: Bantam Books

Saxon Bride
,
1995: Bantam Books

Misbegotten
,
1996: HarperCollins

Unforgotten
,
1997: HarperCollins

Blackheart,
2001: Dorchester Leisure

*
Virgin Bride
is the sequel to
Warrior Bride

Pagan Pride
and
Saxon Bride
are stand-alone novels

www.tamaraleigh.com

CHAPTER ONE

England of The Norman Conquest

October, 1068

“A thousand times I curse you!” the fallen knight shouted at the one who cradled his head in her lap, whose blue skirts were stained purple with his blood.

Trembling violently, he pulled the dagger from his chest, let it fall to the dirt road, and clawed a hand over the wound. “To eternity I curse you, Rhiannyn of Etcheverry. If you will not belong to a Pendery, you will belong to no man, your days and nights gaping pits of despair. Never again to know—”

He drew a gurgling breath, expelled it on blood that fell like crimson mist.

“Thomas,” Rhiannyn whispered.

He jerked his head. “Never again to know the love of a man, never to hold a child at your breast.”

Throat pained by unspoken sobs, she brushed the hair off his glistening brow. “Forgive me. Pray, forgive me.”

“The devil forgive you!” He raised his bloodied hand and dug his fingers into her neck.

Though death surely crouched at his side, she knew he could strangle the life from her. Still, she did not try to free herself. It would be no less than she deserved if all ended here, and she almost wished it would. Then the torment of these past years, which had seen so many dead, would also end. For her.

As she drew breath through her constricted throat, she longed to relive these last hours. She would not run from Thomas, and he would not be dying in her arms.

Warm tears slid down her face. “I did not want this.”

“Curse you!” He released her neck, dragged his bloodied hand down her bodice, and pressed his palm between her breasts as if seeking the beat of her heart. With a grating breath, he shifted his gaze to the gray sky and rasped, “Avenge me, Brother!” Then his body convulsed, lungs emptied, and arm dropped to his side.

A sob broke from Rhiannyn as she stared into sightless eyes that would never again darken with anger over her defiance. Nor would they smile.

She turned her face up. “Why?” she asked as the advancing storm rolled out its thunder. “Now more will die. Surely that cannot be Your will.”

Chill droplets fell, spotting her, mixing fresh water with salt tears—gentle at first, as if heaven wept with her, then fast and hard, as if with a grief more vast than her own.

She was drenched when the sound of approaching horses reached her. Uncaring whether those who came were friend or foe, she bent nearer over Thomas.

“I will belong to none,” she accepted the great emptiness to which he had banished her, an emptiness complete now that she had lost not only her family to the conquering Normans, but the family she might have made with another. “No children will I bear.”

Though the voices of those who came spoke Norman French and were raised in anger, relief swept her. With the arrival of the Pendery knights, her own death was imminent, meaning she would not long be burdened with guilt.

Rhiannyn thought herself prepared for the fury, but she could not keep from crying out when hands wrenched her upright and dragged her back from Thomas.

“What have you done?” Sir Ancel snarled.

Rain pelting her face, she met the gaze of one who had been Thomas’s friend. “He is dead,” she spoke in his French. “I—”

The back of his hand snapped her head to the side with such force she would have flown backward had she not been supported by a man on either side.

It will be over soon,
she silently counseled amid bursts of blinding white and pounding pain. He would come at her again, and within minutes, she would join Thomas upon this dirt road—for a short time. Whereas he would be taken away for a proper burial, she would share the fate of the numerous Saxons who had fallen to the Normans. No kindness in death.

Of a sudden, the men between whom she hung released her, and she dropped to her hands and knees amid the sludge of the road.

“Thomas!” Sir Ancel bellowed, and when she lifted her throbbing head and narrowly opened her eyes, she saw he approached the prone figure of his liege, around which the others gathered.

She slid her gaze to the bordering wood. It was a short distance, but though the instinct to survive urged her to run, reason told her she would not reach it unopposed. And her Norman captors knew it as well.

Peering past Thomas’s men, she saw one rider had not dismounted.

With stricken countenance, Thomas’s fourteen-year-old brother moved his gaze from her to the man Sir Ancel had pulled into his arms.

The youth’s name was Christophe. Lame from birth, he was a gentle soul destined to know books and healing rather than weapons and lording. Henceforth, he would hate her, but he would not avenge his brother’s death as bid. Of such violence he was not capable.

Though Rhiannyn longed to explain to him what had happened, she knew if she were believed, Thomas’s men would seek retribution. What they considered an eye for an eye would mean further carnage of her people. Thus, she would bear the blame for Thomas’s death. And since he had died because of her, it was a good version of the truth.

“Rise!” Sir Ancel commanded.

She startled to find he once more stood over her.

“Lady Rhiannyn!”

Lady
because Thomas had named her one. Determined to wed her, though she had shamed him with her public refusal, he had bestowed the title upon her. After all, it would not do for a favorite of the Norman king to take a Saxon commoner to wife.

Imagining her blood would soon join with his, though not in the manner he had wished, she struggled upright to face the one who would do the deed.

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